A failure to find socially mediated taste aversion learning in Norway rats (R. norvegicus).
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Observer rats interacted with conspecific demonstrators immediately after demonstrators ate a novel diet and were made ill by LiCl injection. Following their interaction with demonstrators, observers were tested for aversion to their ill demonstrator's diet. Previous research has shown that (a) an observer can extract information from a demonstrator sufficient to permit identification of the demonstrator's diet (Galef & Wigmore, 1983) and (b) a rat ill from LiCl toxicosis is an adequate unconditioned stimulus in a taste aversion learning paradigm (Lavin, Freise, & Coombes, 1980). Further, two of the present experiments demonstrated that cues emitted by a rat, reflecting the particular diet it has eaten, are an adequate conditional stimulus in a toxicosis-induced aversion learning situation. Observer avoidance of a diet previously ingested by an ill demonstrator was, however, not demonstrated. The implications of the failure to find socially mediated aversion learning are discussed.
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